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More tax for less: Germans fear for future

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More tax for less: Germans fear for future
Photo: DPA
08:50 CEST+02:00
Most Germans fear gravely for the future of their cherished welfare state, believing they will pay more taxes yet receive fewer benefits in the coming decade, a major survey has found.

Four out of five people believed the state would demand more of their money in 10 years' time than it does today.

Yet 63 percent believed welfare for the elderly would shrink and nearly as many were prepared for cuts to public health, though only about one in three expected cuts to Hartz IV unemployment benefits.

The figures are contained in an unpublished poll on people's beliefs about the prospects for Germany's “social market” model for the next decade, conducted by the surveying firm Infas on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation and published Thursday by daily Die Welt.

The picture that emerges is that Germans still have high expectations of their welfare system. Nine out 10 respondents believed that a person who works throughout their life should be able to maintain their living standard in old age.

About 70 percent of people demand the right to paid work that can sustain a decent standard of living – suggesting support for a universal minimum wage, which Germany currently does not have.

One in three people believed it was reasonable that banks and energy firms be taken over and run by the state.

Most people think pensions and aged care payments are already too meagre, while half of people think health benefits, Hartz IV unemployment benefits and social assistance payments are insufficient.

On the whole, people were pessimistic about the future of society in the next 10 years while also being quite optimistic about the economy. For example, 63 percent believed income differences would grow. About half believed social cohesion was in danger. Some 42 percent believed the opportunities for promotion would get worse.

But the majority believed that the economy would strengthen or at least would lose nothing of its international competitiveness. Nearly 40 percent think economic growth will strengthen – suggesting the well-documented looming demographic crisis caused by Germany's ageing population is not causing any major fear.

The Local/djw

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